Photos: Durka Durka Photo
For the most part, when I hear about a new and innovative gun, I am just let down when I see another AR-15 Variant, 1911 variant or another plastic-framed gun that is trying to out Glock Glock.
About a year ago I saw some limited information on the Alien pistol from Laugo Arms and I was infatuated. First off, it looks really cool. Then I learned more about its features and design and I got really excited. Gas piston operated, fixed barrel, nonreciprocating top strap (sights don’t move) and super low bore axis. This was not the same old stale “innovation”; the Alien is a truly innovative new pistol design.
Earlier this Summer I was doing some work overseas and I had to chance to meet with the guys behind the gun at Laugo Arms while in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Alien was designed by Jan Lucansky, and while you probably have not heard of Jan or Laugo Arms, you are probably familiar with his work. Jan designed the M8A sub-machinegun, which later became the CZ Scorpion Evo 3. Jan sold the rights to the M8A/Scorpion to CZ and worked there to bring it from prototype to production sub-gun. Jan started designing both the Alien and Scorpion as a hobby. He has no specialized education in firearms design. The M8A was his first design and he designed and built it just to see if he could do it. He had no intention of designing a mass-market firearm.
Fast forward a few years and Jan teamed with Ondrej Podel and Daniel Selichar to form Laugo Arms to produce his new pistol design, the Alien. The initial idea for the Alien, the low bore axis and nonreciprocating slide occurred in 2003. It was just an idea that Jan came up with while designing the Scorpion. ” When I left CZ in 2013, I had the time to play with the Alien idea,” Jan said. “I stayed at home for three years, designing and building prototypes of the Alien.”
While the Alien is well suited to competition shooting like IPSC, USPSA, and IDPA, it was designed for military use. One of the prototypes was tested by Czech competition shooter Adam Tyc. Adam is a Double IPSC World Champion in Production Division. Adam told the team that the prototype would be perfect for competition and gave them some useful feedback such as changing from the original Picatinny rail top to a smooth tradition slide style.
I spoke more with Jan (via a translator) about the Alien. “It was not easy to figure out all the mechanics of the pistol. It also had to fit into a particular dimension. It’s very easy for me to make various parts too big and then the pistol is too big and bulky. Keeping everything in a compact package was crucial. It’s more complicated with the Alien because part of the slide is down inside the frame. There was very little room to fit everything.” *Author’s note- In a positive way, I suggested that fitting all the parts inside the Alien was like 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag. Both Jan and Ondrej laughed heartily at the old American saying.
Jan continued, “Designing this pistol took a long time because for each system I had three designs. For example three different trigger systems. This way I had a backup if one design did not work. The project can move forward even if one of the designs turns out to be not ideal.”
“Originally I designed it more for military use but we have had a lot of interest for competition shooting. We have interest from various big-name military special operation groups. We are not going after entire armies but the small specialized units as we are a small production company.”
There is a loose 5-year plan for new versions of the pistol. A polymer grip for 2020, then a compact pistol that is 1 inch shorter. I am most excited about the planned IPSC Open Division version which will have a steel grip. The final version will have a full polymer frame. The team looked at chambering it in 40 S&W but with that caliber waning popularity, it is not something they plan to make any time soon.
So why I am personally excited for this new pistol? There are many reasons. It looks really cool, it shoots well, I am a fan of innovation and this is a unique design — so I want to have one. Mostly though I am excited to compete with an Alien. It’s already approved for use in IPSC Production Division and I expect it will quickly be approved for USPSA Production once the gun lands stateside.
I am looking forward to using it in multi gun competition. I currently shoot an Open Glock with a frame mounted Aimpoint Comp XD that I built in 2002. In multi gun, there are often stages when you are shooting a rifle or shotgun and negotiating obstacles while your pistol is holstered. Because of my frame mounted optic, I am limited to 2 or 3 modified race holsters which are not all that secure. I could switch to a Carry Optics division style pistol with a slide ride optic, and I have a nice G34 with an RMR (see it here), but the fact is slide ride dots are much slower because of the tiny lens and not being able to track the dot in recoil. With the Open version of the Alien, I can attach a dot to the top strap of the slide where it won’t move and still be able to use a more secure carry style holster.
The Alien is not cheap and it’s not meant to be. The team at Laugo doesn’t want to compete with Glock. They want to keep production numbers lower and quality high. They want to use the best materials and production methods to produce a high end pistol. The various parts of the pistol are not hand fit but the tolerances are tight. The parts are also interchangeable. While testing the pistol, we took a top strap with a red dot that was zeroed on one pistol and put it on another pistol. The point of impact difference was just over 1 inch on the second pistol.
That was a lot of words describing the pistol and its history and I am sure you are all wondering what it was like to shoot the Alien. While I was limited to the small one lane underground test range at Laugo HQ, I was able to give the pistol a workout.
Simply put, the recoil impulse is unlike any 9mm pistol I have ever shot. There is very little muzzle flip, although it is just enough to lose the dot under recoil but still a lot less than other 9mm’s. We were shooting full house NATO spec 124gr ammo which contributed to the flip. Torque is basically nonexistent like most 9mm’s. There is however a significant push – almost like a .45 ACP 1911 but sharper and faster. The upside is that push does not matter and does not disturb your sight picture like muzzle flip does.
I suspect that with some tuning of the ammo, spring weight, gas port size and/or slide weight the pistol will shoot super flat. I am the guy that is always messing with a gun to try and make it shoot better, so Jan might not like me for messing with his design. But if it gets better I am OK with that. I suspect slide weight would make the biggest change. There is a lot of material to the slide that you can’t see when the pistol is assembled. The weight is down low but there is still a lot of mass moving back and forth. Some lightening cuts to the slide might turn out to be the best thing since sliced cheese.
I was not able to do a real accuracy test on the Alien; a Ransom Rest and sand bags were too big to fit in my carryon luggage. Instead I improvised, supporting my hands on a short worktable and shooting at 20 meters. The gun turned in respectable groups of about 1.5 inches. With a good rest and premium ammo, I think sub 1 inch groups at 25 yards is well within the Alien’s capabilities.
Alien pistols are not yet available in the US but the Laugo team is finalizing a deal with a US importer and hopes to have them available in the US in late 2019. Laugo will also be attending the SHOT show for the first time in January 2020 which will give most Americans their first hands on look at the Alien.
If you are reading this from Europe you can buy an Alien now. A special edition Alien is available and limited to 500 units. It comes with the pistol, 1 top strap with iron sights, a second top strap with a red dot, mags, a holster and Bore Tech (my personal favorite solvents for cleaning guns) cleaning solvents all together in a nice custom padded case for about $5000.
The Alien has a lot of potential for both tactical and competition use, I am looking forward to running it hard. The next time you hear about a new and innovative product in the firearms industry, remember the Alien, because once in awhile the industry gives us a gem. At the risk of repeating myself, the Alien is exciting and I can’t wait to get mine.
Barrel length: 4.8-inches
Weight (with empty mag): 2.47 pounds
Trigger weight: 2.2 to 5.6 pounds.
Magazine capacity: 17